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Virginity Testing

Just the Tip! Featuring Virgin Classified Ads, Better Sex Ed in Cali, Virginity Scholarships in S. Africa & Feminist 'Hamilton'

Can you feel it in the air? Spring is just around the corner! Here are this week's top stories from the world of virginity, ladyparts and sex. For up to the minute news, follow our Facebook Page, where we post every day!


Dad Advertises His ‘Virgin’ Daughter for Marriage in Christian Magazine

At least 'virgin' was at the end of a long list of her attributes. The daughter in question responded “it’s appropriate they placed it in the Employment Opportunities section because putting up with this father-in-law's shenanigans is a full time job, without any paid vacation.” It's interesting that his daughter's reaction (on a now-deleted blog post) was basically an 'Oh Dad' eye roll. h/t Paul Freelend


On one hand...
Radford University Holds “Men Can Stop Rape” Presentation For Greeks, Only Requires Sorority Women To Go

This is Rape Culture: "Sororities were required to send every single member to this speaker. And the fraternity requirement? Eight." The Panhellenic community was outraged and wrote the perfect angry letter. h/t Soraya Chemaly

On the other hand...
California Becomes First State To Make Sexual Consent Lessons Mandatory In High Schools Beginning Next Year

The new law mandates all school districts that have made health a graduation requirement to lecture students about sexual violence prevention and affirmative consent starting next year. Plus, Governor Brown signed a new law mandating all school districts to offer comprehensive sex education courses twice for grades 7 through 12. "The measure did not receive any opposition in the Legislature, and even nearly received a unanimous bipartisan backing." Huzzah.


Video: When You First Time Literally Feels Like Poop

From Refinery 29: Two very honest and sweet people talk about embarrassing first times.


‘My virginity will change my future’, vows South African student

A group of South African 'maidens' get their college fees paid on the condition that they remain 'virgins,' with regular 'virginity tests' by a group of older women. Despite the fact that there's not such thing as a virginity test, it's sexist to make abstinence a condition of women getting scholarships, and these efforts aren't actually curbing pregnancies or HIV, the recipients think it's great. Oh, and they're going to offer it to guys as well, but won't be 'testing' them. h/t Paul Freelend


Indigenous languages recognize gender states not even named in English

The Native Youth Sexual Health Network is talking about how Canada's First Nation languages treat gender. Incredibly cool : In Cree, for example, “aayahkwew” means “neither man or woman.” In Inuktitut, “sipiniq” means “infant whose sex changes at birth.” In Kanien’keha, or Mohawk language, “onón:wat” means “I have the pattern of two spirits inside my body.” h/t Andrea Plaid


schuylersistershamilton

And finally...in honor of Women's History Month, the Schuyler Sisters

Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, who play the Schuyler sisters in the Broadway musical Hamilton raps to feminist quotes and it's awesome. As the constant joke goes, this may be as close as anyone gets to seeing the musical. Or do like the New Yorkers do every morning and  try your luck in the lottery!

Just The Tip runs most Fridays. Send us your virginity stories here or on Twitter.

Congratulations! You've won a grant shaped like a chastity belt.

Where, oh where, to begin with this story about a South African grant just for girls who remain virgins:

 

“The bursaries are for young girls who are still virgins,” said a municipality spokesman, Jabulani Mkhonza.
“It’s a new category which the mayor has introduced this year,” he said, adding that the goal was to encourage “young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”. Beneficiaries of the grant would be subjected to regular virginity tests, he added. 
“Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back for holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity,” said Mkhonza.

Let's see...
That tying poor girls' educational prospects to a grant shaped like a chastity belt is inhumane? 
That virginity tests are bogus and a gross invasion of privacy? 
That keeping girls safe and in school is better accomplished with sex ed?
That young women should get educational support regardless of sexual history?
That some of them have probably been raped and shamed over that? 
That there's no comment on the value of boys staying celibate?
Ugh. 

The good news: Women's groups are attacking the plan.

A Big Balloon Arch Full of Hymen Myths, All Popped.

We couldn't have said it better–or funnier–ourselves. 

Just The Tip: Virginity In The News with Jane The Virgin, The Institute of Sexology, Indonesian 'virginity' testing, victorian sex myths that won't go away, and more...

Your weekly roundup of virginity-related stories in your world. Want to hear about them right away? Follow us on Facebook where we post daily. Got a story for us to post? Let us know!  

V-Card and Feminist Ryan Gosling

So honored to have our V-Card sharing space with Feminist Ryan Gosling at Sewanee University of the South after my "How To Lose Your Virginity Myths" lecture at the Bairnwick Women's Center Pinnacle Luncheon. Want me to come to your school? More info here.

 

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"There are no “but”s when it comes to women’s humanity. Not “but” you’re lonely, not “but” you’re horny, not “but” you’re nice, not “but” that’s how your grandparents met, not “but” she was naked in your bed. Women are people, and women just get to exist and set boundaries and say no. Always. Any time. Just like you."

Lindy West's essay for the Daily Dot is so powerful in the way it elegantly connects the dots between online harassment, rape culture, pick-up artists, and the way women are socialized to be 'kind' and 'receptive.' It's a must-read.

 

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Among the many reasons to watch the new CW show Jane The Virgin (aside from the amazing Gina Rodriguez) is the show's sex positive and pro-choice messages, which Cosmo points out is a big step forward for the Latina community.

"A TV show can't change everything about how the Latino community talks about sex and reproductive rights, but it's heartening to see one that reflects the change that's already happening. And while Jane's decision may ultimately not have been your decision, it's a decision she was able to make — not her mother's, not her grandmother's, not her boyfriend's. The show hasn't trivialized or moralized abortion talk; it's normalized it."

I especially love the show for the way it portrays real-life abstinence choices, freely made with actual information, as well as the way it confounds the stereotypes around 'older' virginity. OK, at 23, Jane isn't at all old, but you all are sending me older virgin emails at 19. So. Also, I have a special crush on vain but hilarious Telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega played by Jaime Camil. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it here for free!

 

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Turkish textbooks remove diagrams of genitals

Turkish news outlet The Hurriyet Daily News reports that some Turkish schoolbooks have replaced diagrams of genitalia with cute photos of mothers and baby animals. While pictures of baby polar bears definitely help SEO, they have no place in science books. It's just another disturbing instance of Turkey's increasing conservatism under Erdogan, but keep in mind these censored Turkish sex ed texts are not unlike US abstinence programs which erase information about contraception and gay people–when they're not vilifying them, that is. I hope they still have Our Bodies, Ourselves.

 

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The Telegraph reports that women who are trying to join Indonesia's police force are routinely subjected to 'virginity' testing. The women report that

“My group of about 20 girls was asked to enter the hall and was asked to take off our clothes, including our bras and underpants,” a 19-year-old woman told the organisation. “It was humiliating. Only those who had menstruation can keep [wearing] underpants… A female doctor did the virginity test ... the 'two-finger' test."

The story makes a point of asking what virginity has to do with good police work, but fails to mention that any and all so-called virginity tests don't test anything except how retrograde and ignorant the testers are. Aside from that, these tests were supposed to be abolished in Indonesia in 2010–and they are a violations of human rights.

 

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The UK's Wellcome Collection is doing a year-old exhibit on sexuality called “The Institute of Sexology”, which they describe as:

"a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts. Undress your mind and join us to investigate human sexuality at 'The Institute', the first of our longer exhibitions. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, this is the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex."

I love their NSFW video, which makes the study of sex look classy and illicit at the same time, with scads of naked bodies and naughty words. Totally worth the trip to London, in my opinion!

 

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We got vibrators

From Autostraddle's Rebel Girl series, 5 Bad Theories on Gender and Sex From Way Back When That Still Impact us Today, from with the totally bogus universal theory of gender difference, making European women's bodies the 'normal,' and the ongoing pathologization (is that a word?) of female sexuality.

"The American Psychiatric Association didn’t drop the term hysteria until the 1950s, and hysterical neurosis remained there into 1980. The impacts of the mass misdiagnosis are far-reaching: women today are still labeled “crazy,” and it’s a seemingly natural part of our gender roles."

On the plus side, we got vibrators.

 

"Jane The Virgin" is coming this Fall

[Update: The show premieres Oct 13th, 2014 on the CW]

The new comedy series Jane The Virgin, based on a Venezuelan telenovela  Juana la Virgen, is debuting on the CW. I've never seen the orginal, but from the clips on the site, it seems to be the story of a teenage girl who is accidentally artificially inseminated, and hilarity and slut-shaming ensue.

The vibe is very Ugly Betty, another telenovela remake that I really liked*, so that's promising. Bonus points for the clip above, in which they seem to be making fun of the offensive abstinence parlor games that equate dirty pieces of tape, chewed up gum and dirty toothbrushes with a young lady's destroyed virtue (even though, weirdly, the actress who plays the grandmother does not seem to be in on the joke). Here's hoping they bust a bunch of virginity myths and it's not all just one long virgin/whore joke.

h/t to virginspotter Myra Batchelder

*What's the amazing America Ferrara up to these days? I loved her in one of my favorite films Real Women Have Curves, which has hilarious and awesome virginity loss and body image story lines.

V-Card Diaries: Cheeky Charmer "I thought I had tempted my rapist by showing skin. I was eleven years old."

Today we're highlighting Cheeky Charmer in Pennsylvania. She blamed herself for a rape that happened at a young age based on teachings from a week-long Christian purity seminar. She now knows that her choice to have sex or not does not define her worth. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I'm a 22-year-old female from Pennsylvania.

How I define virginity:

 It's a life long journey of finding identity through new experiences.

Here's my story:

I was raped. I don't say that to be pitied; save your flowers and sympathy for someone who needs them.  I say it so that you understand my story. When I was eleven I was innocently lying in bed and someone I trusted and loved dearly took away the part of me that I valued.

The week after it happened I attended a retreat called Pure Freedom; a seminar to help Christian girls seek out God through pledging abstinence. We were given assessments, books, and tests to measure how “modest” we were. The whole weekend was devoted to the new transformative meaning of that word “modesty.” We were informed how our clothing would appear to men. They told us that men cannot help themselves because they have the fight or flight system in their bodies that causes arousal by a woman who bears skin or wears tight clothing. The whole day was spent learning techniques on how to wear modest, God-approved clothing. We took tests on what we watch, what we say to men, and how we dress, and we were given clothing tricks to assist men in their journey to Godliness. We were responsible for men’s relationship with God based on how we carried ourselves.

The speaker stood in front of an audience of five hundred girls and told us that modesty wasn’t just about what you wear but how you carry yourself, how you talk to other men, and what you do with other men. We were told that God wanted us to wait until we were married based on what the Bible said. We were told not to be the “hoe of the universe” by engaging in sex before marriage.

The whole week I couldn’t help but think that I was what caused my rapist to attack me. This Pure Freedom was actually what felt like a prison; guilt swelled like a balloon about to burst. I realized that I had tempted my rapist. I was wearing only a bra and underwear that night and it was my fault. I remember thinking that God was punishing me for showing skin that night.  It was only natural for a man to see my skin and be aroused. The rape was entirely my fault, and God was punishing me for what I had done. I was eleven years old and I was carrying this burden for a decade.

After ten years of believing this myth, I made the conscious effort to take ownership of my sexuality; it never belonged to this organization that brainwashed me into thinking that my value was in my virginity, my clothing, and my future husband. My value does not have a scale that is virgin or slut. God loves me whether I have sex or not. I am not an object: I am a woman with the right to choose when, where, and who I have sex with. My sexuality cannot be bought by people who make young girls feel inadequate to sell a book and a T-shirt. I was raped and that doesn’t define who will love me. My virginity is mine and I define what it means; it does not define my value.

Ask Trixie: Will I bleed the first time I have sex?

Will I bleed the first time I have sex? –A.

Hi A–

Thanks for writing. The quick answer is I don’t know if you’re going to bleed or not. Some women* will bleed the first time their vaginas are penetrated by a penis (or a dildo or fingers, for that matter) and some won’t. It depends on various factors, like whether you’re sufficiently aroused and lubricated, how rough your partner is, how elastic your hymen is, or whether you have any medical conditions that might cause bleeding. Sometimes there’s a lot of blood, sometimes there’s some spotting and just as often there’s no blood at all (which is how it went for me).

The myth that all women bleed the first time they have intercourse is so pervasive that it’s used as a standard ‘virginity’ test all over the world. In reality, the whole blood-on-the-sheet thing says absolutely nothing about whether a woman is a virgin, has previously been penetrated by a penis, or anything else except how her vaginal tissue reacted to the factors listed above. As we often point out, there is no way to test for ‘virginity.’

If you want more information on bleeding, I’d highly recommend Scarleteen’s"One Bloody Mess: Myths and Realities of Bleeding with First Intercourse", and while you’re there, consider making a small donation so they can keep doing the amazing work they do.

*This question came from a woman with a vagina planning to have PIV sex for the first time, but for any first-time penetration, make sure it’s slow, gentle and very well-lubricated. If you feel like there’s excessive blood or pain, it may be a sign that something is physically wrong, and you should definitely see your doctor about it.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

Ask Trixie: How can I make my future husband believe I'm a virgin?

I had sex about 3 years ago and it was only one time and I was 15 years old. I bled a lot and it hurt like 3 days. What will I do to make my future husband to believe I'm a virgin? Do I need to see a doctor to check if I need a surgery or can I just fake blood? I cant sleep at night because I'm scared just thinking about it all the time. –W.

Hi W. –

I’m so sorry you are going through this.

The first and most important thing to know is that no one can prove or show that someone has had intercourse or is not a virgin by any definition. A doctor can’t look at you and tell anything, and many women never bleed, even the first time they have intercourse. These are the facts, no matter what you have been taught. So if a future husband is looking for some kind of proof of virginity, it doesn’t exist. It would be very possible and common to have intercourse for the very first time and never bleed at all (This is how it happened for me, and I’m sure many of the women you know). For more detailed information, you can read my post about bleeding, virginity and hymen surgery here, but I'll discuss some of it here as well.

I will assume by your questions that you live within a culture that puts a high value on virginity for women. While many people claim this kind of thinking protects you and celebrates your purity, it really is a lot more aboutcontrolling your body and telling you what you can and can’t do with it. The idea that you have less value if you’ve had sex is false, unfair and dangerous, especially because I’m betting there isn’t the same requirement for the men. Our favorite sex ed website Scarleteen has received many letters from women in your situation, and also from men who demand ways to prove virginity, and Scarleteen wrote a really good post about virginity and women's bodies.

Finally, the RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) is combating myths about the hymen and virginity and created a PDF book you can download. It includes information about hymen 'reconstruction' which is the surgery you are referring to. Some women are so afraid of not bleeding, that they have this done even if they have never had sex. As RSFU writes, surgery rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality.

This may not always be possible, but if there is a female relative or a doctor you can speak to, you can share with them the information I've linked to above and talk through your concerns. It helps to have someone nearby who is there to listen and help.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

I challenged virginity auctioner Elizabeth Raine on the validity of virginity testing and something amazing happened

Last week, I did an interview with Elizabeth Raine, the American woman who is offering her 'virginity' for auction. I enjoyed talking to her about the myths inherent in these kinds of auctions: placing value on a social construct, the fact that what's really being auctioned is 'first penis in,' and the enduring and dangerous myth of the hymen's relationship to a woman's sexual history.

In fact, I called her out her claim that she could prove her virginity through a test. She responded by doing something amazing. She wrote a post on her blog that included the following lines:

Even among virgins, the doctor cannot always prove virginity.

The absence of an “intact” hymen never proves the absence of virginity.

And many virgins do not bleed or even feel discomfort at first penetration.

And then this statement at the end:

If you are someone who is disappointed by this news, I am so very sorry (yes, that was sarcasm). I am aware that some people want to know with certainty whether or not our young women are virgins, but whoever once said “you can’t always get what you want” was really onto something. So, instead, why don’t we stop terrorizing these girls unnecessarily – it is the height of unreasonable to dictate a bride bleed on her wedding night or pass a gynecological examination (for a virgin whore, it is a bit more reasonable). And if you are someone who would punish a woman for not doing so, then you are a big part of what is wrong with this world. And I would suggest you change yourself, a lot, immediately. You might begin by getting your facts straight on hymens.

I have some issues with her assertion that in her case it can be proven, but volunteering for exams and lie detector tests seems to be a standard component of Virginity Auction Theater at this point. Having said that, I really appreciated her doing some outreach/education for the benefit of misguided (and worse) people who still think hymens have anything to do with anything (checking a guy's testicles will give you just as much information on his history...none).

Her bidding opened today, complete with extensive terms and conditions (including not penetrating the anus of the Virgin, or treating her violently). So for those people so in thrall of the virgin/whore dichotomy that they place a premium on 'first penis in' and want to pay someone for it, she awaits your bids.

An interview with Elizabeth Raine, America's latest virginity auctioner

Raine
Raine

I just did an interview for Nerve.com with 27-year-old American medical student Elizabeth Raine, who is putting her "virginity" up for auction on April 1st. Readers of this blog know I've been following this phenomenon for years, and like every other woman doing this kind of thing, she's getting a lot of sleazy, breathless tabloid coverage. I was glad to learn a bit more about her, and to talk to her about how virginity auctions affect how we value women for their sexual status, and how they perpetuate virginity myths and stereotypes.

As I say in the intro, I talked to Liz about the kind of guy who’d pay good money to be the “first penis in,” why you can’t prove a woman isn't a virgin, and how to negotiate boundaries when your first sexual experience is with a total stranger. Here's a short excerpt where we get into some of the issues, but please read the whole thing at Nerve.

Which brings me to the question of what “virginity” means to you. What are you auctioning? I think losing virginity is having heterosexual intercourse for the first time. If you are referring to another type of intercourse it needs to be clarified, for instance “I lost my oral virginity.”

So what do you think the appeal or fascination is for a guy? What do you think they think they’re buying? For some reason or another it is a sexual fantasy [to have a virgin]. In some cases, I think they want to take on the role of sexual teacher. In others, they just want to try something new. And then there are some men who are just attracted to the idea of an untouched woman.

I always assumed it was the desire for “first penis in” like planting your flag on uncharted territory or something.  Men are very competitive and territorial creatures.

I sometimes think that if men are stupid enough to pay for a social construct, let them. I can't disagree with that.

I really hate the mythology virginity auctions perpetuate. As long as there hasn't been a penis inside a woman, she and her body have value. But once that happens, she has none. No one auctions off the second time they have intercourse.  Well that's not necessarily true, women with all levels of sexual experience are selling sex somewhere. I'm not saying that makes it right, but I do think it is more of a continuum than you think. Men preferring less 'promiscuous' women is not a phenomenon limited to virgins.

They are, but adding the #virginity seems to increase the value exponentially. I'm not sure Natalie would have gotten much interest if she had already had intercourse and was offering the second time to a lucky bidder. Do you? I agree the value is inflated. Here is one more idea: The first time is a mystery. So, being in the position of the virgin, if you are going to lose it under these circumstances, it should pay well.

Virginity testing of women accused of 'immorality' is standard procedure in Afghanistan

From a New York Times story by Heather Barr on increasing attacks on the rights of women in Afghanistan: Whenever a woman or girl is arrested on “morality” charges — and sometimes even when she is accused of non-moral crimes such as theft or assault — she is whisked away for a vaginal examination at a government clinic in the province in which she was arrested. There is no opportunity for her to refuse.

Because of frequent mix-ups and general inefficiency, some women are sent for the examination two or three times. The examination, carried out by government doctors, results in a report on whether or not the woman or girl is a “virgin.”

These reports are often used as the sole evidence to support “moral crimes” charges in court, aside from a “confession” taken down by a police officer immediately after the arrest, which is usually signed with a thumbprint by a woman or girl who has no idea what it says[...]

Forcing these women and girls to undergo invasive vaginal examinations, sometimes repeatedly, to ascertain “virginity” as evidence likely to be used against them in criminal proceedings is not only a form of degrading and inhuman treatment strictly prohibited by international law but also a violation of their basic fair trial rights.

All of this would be horrific enough if it weren’t bad science, but it is. “Virginity” tests have no medical validity. A medical examination cannot determine, with any level of accuracy useful to a court, a woman’s sexual history.

In other news, a group of men in India think rape is the result of poor choices made by women: “Wearing the wrong kind of clothes, eating the wrong kind of food, going to the wrong kind of places.”

 

Talking Virginity with Adjoa Sankofia Tetteh: "If their kids have lost their virginity, it affects the way these parents see their children"

From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in June 2012.

We caught up with Sexuality Educator Adjoa Sankofia Tetteh at MomentumCon in DC and asked her about how her clients dealt with virginity issues. She told us that parents really do drag their daughters to clinics and ask doctors to check if they are still virgins. The video is here.

Follow Adjoa on twitter @adjoasankofia

Watch our other MomentumCon interviews with Carol Queen, Charlie Glickman and Jaclyn Friedman.

Lies My Bloody Sheets Told Me

fbblood
fbblood

From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in November 2011.

So, this appeared on stfu, believers tumblr yesterday. Assuming it's not a tasteless hoax, this is a photo some guy took after having intercourse with his wife on their wedding night. According to the person who re-posted it, it was intended to prove that "while he isn’t ‘pure’, she is."

Even if it is a hoax, it is also what we call a 'teaching moment.' So, let us analyze this train wreck:

1. The status of someone's hymen and the presence or lack of blood has nothing to do with whether a woman has had intercourse or not. So proud hubby, all this high-fiving over making your wife bleed displays a totally misguided* and dangerous* mis-understanding* of how female bodies* work.

2. Also, dude, additional high-fiving over the fact that your wife was 'pure' on her wedding night is sort of sad especially since you want us all to know you weren't. Double standard, much? If she did, in fact, abstain from intercourse until marriage, I truly hope it did not stem from some fear that no man would marry her unless she was 'pure.'

3. Some folks were doubting that this was hymenal-breakage blood because there was so much of it, saying it looked more like the aftermath of period sex. Well, it does. But who knows? Even though many women don't bleed at all, some bleed a lot. And some continue to bleed occasionally throughout their sexual lives. It's sensitive down there! Our bodies are all different and there's no 'right' way to react to something in your vagina, whether it's the first time or the 56th.

4. Did I mention that whether the blood came from her monthlies, her vaginal tissue or a stray chicken liver, it says nothing meaningful about her sexual history?

5. Now readers, I need to talk to you. There's been a lot of ew-ing over the blood. Get over it - it's blood. Wanna know what's really gross? A guy who violates his brand new wife's privacy by displaying a sheet covered with her brand new wife's blood on Facebook and then crows about it.

* The hymen wasn't even 'discovered' until 1544 when an anatomist went looking for the reason some women bled when they first had intercourse. He identified a small bit of tissue at the opening of the vagina, and because men were so desperate to medicalize virginity, they made the hymen their signpost. By the way, there were lots of other tests for virginity, equally useless. Just one of the many ridiculous examples: If a woman smells lettuce and then pees, she's clearly not a virgin because of the 'open channel' between her mouth and vagina. Seriously.

Headline with apologies to Mordechai Richler

More on virginity testing here and hymenology here. And vampire hymens here.

A Hymen by any other name – in Swedish, English and Arabic – is definitely sweet.

From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in December 2009.

The RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) is my new favorite sexual health organization! They distribute a booklet for the express purpose of dispelling myths surrounding the hymen and virginity. And they've coined a new name to better understand this somewhat notorious part of the female anatomy: Vaginal Corona (slidkrans* in Swedish):

In Swedish, the hymen used to be called mödomshinna, which translates literally as “virginity membrane.” In fact, there is no brittle membrane, but rather multiple folds of mucous membrane.

The vaginal corona is a permanent part of a woman’s body throughout her life. It doesn’t disappear after she first has sexual intercourse, and most women don’t bleed the first time,” said Åsa Regnér, RFSU secretary general.

Here's their unapologetic take on the meaning of virginity:

Virginity is a vague concept based on perceptions and myths, chiefly concerning female sexuality, that RFSU would not wish to endorse. For one thing, virginity is often associated with a heteronormative view of sex restricted to penetrative intercourse between man and woman...

For another, in many languages and cultures, virgin is synonymous with innocence, the opposite of which is guilt. There is no guilt involved in having sex, and no need to feel guilty about it.

The book gives examples of different vaginal coronas as well as a diagram of the vulva, and hopes to dispel the myth that all women bleed the first time they have intercourse. Here's what they have to say about hymen reconstruction (a procedure even non-sexually active women have to ensure they bleed):

Surgery on the vaginal corona rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain patriarchal structures and a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality...it is not possible to sew a membrane in place, to recreate something that never existed. Doctors say it’s like “stitching butter” because the tissue is soft and elastic.

The book addresses vaginal intercourse and pleasure:

For a woman to enjoy vaginal intercourse – regardless of how many times she has done it and what is being inserted in her vagina – she needs to be aroused and lubricated (wet). If she is tense and has difficulties to relax, it may hurt more. It doesn’t matter whether it’s her first, second or tenth time.

And sexual assault:

Although you can’t tell from looking at a vaginal corona whether it has been penetrated, if you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault it’s possible to find traces of your attacker. It’s therefore critical to seek medical care as soon as possible after the incident, and not to wash yourself. The injuries that doctors record and the samples they take can be used as evidence in court. Equally important is the need to talk to someone and get counselling and support to help you deal with what has happened.

The booklet, which you can download here, is written in a very friendly and accessible tone – an impressive translation job from Swedish. The best news is that not only have they translated the booklet into English, by popular demand it's also available in Arabic and Sorani (a Kurdish language spoken in Iran and Iraq). All of our hymenology posts are here.

*Anyone know the literal definition of that? Their new term for the hymen in Arabic is تاج{اكليل}المهبل، and in Sorani, the term is ئهڵقهی زێ

Just the Tip: Virginity in the News with Indonesian V-tests, Dr. Kinsey, Virgin Mary sightings, the King's Virgin mistress and talking sex ed and college sex regrets.

Here's a very quick roundup of news on virginity and sexuality: Kinsey Report on Female Sexuality

While spending a weekend at the Kinsey Institute getting all fan-girl over everything, I had the great fortune of going through lots of archival material, especially the shitstorm caused by the groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. It's been 60 years since details of Dr. Alfred Kinsey's landmark book caused all hell to break loose. Women masturbated? Women had affairs? Women liked...sex?

In the words of Reverend Billy Graham: "[Dr Kinsey] certainly could not have interviewed any of the millions of born-again Christian women in this country who put the highest price on virtue, decency and modesty." Happily, many clergy said "Kinsey's work would benefit humanity because knowledge of our sexual natures could only improve people's lives."

Learn more and check out some seriously awesome images here.

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An Indonesian educator has suggested using his city budget to institute annual virginity tests for female students 16 to 19, describing it as "an accurate way to protect children from prostitution and free sex". He also said "This is for their own good," and "Every woman has the right to virginity … we expect students not to commit negative acts."

And if you think this makes no logical sense, you're right. And not just because there is no such thing as a virginity test as, we have now written 39 separate times. The good news is even the local Islamic Council thinks it's a stupid idea which was already rejected in Sumatra and West Java. So, progress, maybe?

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Windshield image of Virgin Mary“It was a miracle,” Elida Mendoza, 59, said through a translator about seeing the mother of God on the windshield of her truck. She and others tried to wash the windshield, but couldn’t wipe the image of Mary away with mere cleaning products."

The Virgin Mary was sighted on a windshield in Mission, Texas (above), and a cross in Providence Rhode Island.

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"There isn't one right time to start, and most sex educators will tell you that it's a lifelong process (because sexuality is just another part of life). The thing to realize is that if you have kids you're already teaching them about sexuality. So why not do it consciously?"

The wonderful Cory Silverberg in a group of columns about talking to your kids about sex education, porn and masturbation.

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King Louis XIV mistress Maria Mancini & her 'virginity'"On what basis, I thought, do we continue to assume that [Louis XIV mistress] Marie remained a virgin until her wedding night? Was it possible that young women of her time knew how to convincingly fake it?"

"The project of assuring ‘evidence’ one’s virginity might have been a familiar one to many young women, whether or not they had previously had intercourse with a man. In seventeenth-century comedy, a familiar scene is a dialogue between a young bride-to-be and her governess, who advises her on how to act like a virgin on her wedding night."

From a very delightful and informative article called "On Faking Virginity"

Just the Tip! Virginity in the News: Orthodox sex manuals, John Stamos, Sex and the Citadel & 29-year-old virgins

In a community where unmarried men and women don't touch, and are allowed no access to the internet or even non-religious texts, a long-overdue sex manual for ultra-Orthodox Jews has just been published. We're talking basics, like starting with how men's and women's bodies differ in shape. I really hope "The Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy" will be welcome in this community, because sex and pleasure within marriage is something that is encouraged and celebrated. What I find most-fascinating is the lengths the authors, Dr. David Ribner and Jennie Rosenfeld, have gone to in order to make the process of accessing the information comfortable. From a BBC/PRI article about the book, which also has an audio segment:

In Israel's Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox community, there are manuals written for brides and grooms to be, to help guide them on the subject of intimacy in married life, but they employ allegorical, vague terminology and no explicit how-to instructions on matters of sexual intercourse. So Ribner's book enters uncharted territory. Flip through it though, and you see no illustrations. Instead there is a sealed envelope on the back flap, with a warning to readers that it contains sexual diagrams. If you don't want to look at them, you can rip off the envelope and throw it away.

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Does anyone know if there are sex manuals for newly-married and devout Muslims? Women's ENews just published an excerpt from Shereen El Feki's new book "" Writing about the significance of female virginity, she says:

The Quran makes no mention of the hymen (ghisha' al-bakara in Arabic) per se, but it does talk at length about private parts and the importance of protecting them from view. While virginity is, in principle, gender-neutral in the Quran, female virgins get special billing, the Virgin Mary coming in for particular praise. Then there are the hur, the perpetual virgins of paradise, "maidens restraining their glances, untouched beforehand by man or jinn," whom Muslim men will marry as a reward for a righteous, God-fearing life, so the faithful believe. According to hadith, the Prophet is said to have joked with a newly married companion that he might have had more fun with a virgin than the "mature woman" he took as his wife.

We think the American edition's cover is pretty brilliant. Read the full excerpt here.

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Yahoo is launching a new show called "Losing Your Virginity with John Stamos" which features Stamos interviewing celebrities about their first sexual experiences. Puppets, Barbies and animation will be involved. We're cautiously optimistic about this, but who knows? It doesn't look like the show will involve anyone actually losing their virginity to John Stamos, which is somewhat disappointing considering he's still pretty damn hot.

 

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The new star-laden movie "The Big Wedding" stars Topher Grace playing a 29-year-old virgin, a fact disclosed by a tipsy Diane Keaton on the Ellen show. She followed that by saying she doesn't think there are actually any 29-year-old virgins. Uh, well, maybe not in Hollywood. The trailer is here but FYI, it got 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Virginity testing and India's rape culture

Photo via Brown Girl Magazine

By now we've all heard about the 23-year-old Indian woman who died last week as a result of injuries suffered in a brutal gang rape. A woman in Pujab recently killed herself  after police refused to register her rape accusations, and police themselves have been implicated in rapes across the country. Now comes a report on a two-finger test which is still admissible as evidence in rape cases.

Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense. In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity. The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.

So it's the usual combination of bad science, the medicalization of virginity testing, and good old slut-shaming. As reprehensible as India's attitudes are, keep in mind similar attitudes still hold sway in U.S. rape cases where, despite Rape Sheild laws, a sexual history can undermine a woman's credibility.

Update: Thanks to @kalifilms for a link to a story that expands on how poorly the US deals with its own rape culture

"If nobody wants to solve our problem, then they should behead her; we don’t want her"

I just read a horrifying New York Times story about a 18-year-old Afghan girl living in Northern Afghanistan who was abducted, raped and beaten by armed milita and possibly local police when she was 17. It was an rare and hopeful step for the family to take their daughter to the hospital and bring this crime to the governor's attention, but in a sickening twist, killing her to preserve the family is still their Plan B if they can't get justice:

 An examination also confirmed that her hymen had been broken. That can be tantamount to a death sentence in Afghanistan, where women are considered fit to marry only if they are proved to be virgins on their wedding night. Some who fail that test are killed by relatives to restore the family’s honor.

In interviews, both Lal Bibi’s mother and grandfather said they were thinking of killing her unless justice was done, although the fact that they had come forward suggested that they were hoping that the government will prosecute the men and redress the wrongs done to her and her family through the legal system.

“If nobody wants to solve our problem, then they should behead her; we don’t want her,” her mother said.

Even Lal Bibi, the young woman in question, says she'll commit suicide if her attackers aren't charged:

“If the people in government fail to bring these people to justice I am going to burn myself,” she said. “I don’t want to live with this stigma on my forehead. People will mock me if these men go unpunished, so I want every single one of them to be punished.”

Two men have been arrested, but the chief suspect disappeared after she was abducted. You can read the full story here.

Egyptian "Virginity testing" doctor acquitted but activist Samira Ibrahim fights on

“Nobody violated my honor, it’s Egypt whose honor was violated. And I will go on till the end to get her rights.”

–Samira Ibrahim, who bravely came forward to file lawsuits against the military for forcing captured Egyptian female protesters to undergo so-called 'virginity testing.' Although a civilian administrative court ruled the military had acted improperly, the doctor responsible for these sexual assaults was acquitted of charges.

The New York Times describes Ibrahim as 'an icon of the nascent women’s movement — which has found new freedom to organize since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year — for pressing her case despite the stigma that has silenced most other women subjected to the tests.'

[Hymen Week] Stitch a Hymen, Save a Life: The absurd necessity of hymen reconstruction

Cable has Shark Week, we have Hymen Week. All this week we're reposting some of our favorite hymen-related stories from the alarming to the ridiculous. The following post was originally published on April 28, 2010. I've written about hymen reconstruction before, and every time another story comes up, I get upset all over again. Here's what one young Lebanese women quoted in a BBC program says about the fallout of her first sexual relationship:

"I was scared my family would find out especially since they didn't approve of my relationship," she says. "I was terrified they might kill me." After seven years in the relationship, her lover's family wanted him to marry someone else. Nada attempted suicide. "I got a bottle of Panadol and a bottle of household chemicals," she says. "I drank them and said, 'That's it'." Nada is now 40, and found out about surgical hymen restoration just six years ago. She married and had two children. Her wedding night was a stressful ordeal. "I didn't sleep that night. I was crying," she says. "I was very scared but he didn't suspect anything."

I guess that counts as a happy ending in this messed-up world, if you have access to a doctor who will perform the surgery and a couple of thousand dollars to spare.

The doctors have sometimes come under fire, accused of profiting off this sexism, but as I've written before, they're also the ones dealing with all those people dragging their daughters or future wives into their offices demanding virginity tests. These doctors know there's no such thing, and usually pronounce in favor of the women anyway, as they've been doing for centuries.

The RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) distributes a great booklet designed to dispel myths surrounding the hymen and virginity. They take issue with the whole concept of hymen reconstruction (they refer to the hymen as the corona, a term gaining in popularity among sex educators):

Surgery on the vaginal corona rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain patriarchal structures and a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality...it is not possible to sew a membrane in place, to recreate something that never existed. Doctors say it’s like “stitching butter” because the tissue is soft and elastic.

In an NPR report, Egyptian author Amy Mowafi talks astutely about her own issues with re-virginization. She's referring to an artificial virginity device, but it can easily apply to surgery as well:

"The problem with a device like this is it makes it too easy for the woman to play by the rules of society instead of standing up and saying, 'No, you need to understand that I am a good person. And it should not all come down to this issue of a hymen...'

"As an Arab — an independent Arab woman — you can break as many glass ceilings as you like. But you can never break your hymen."

Arab writer and social commentator, Sana Al Khayat tells the BBC it's about control:

"If she's a virgin, she doesn't have any way of comparing [her husband to other men]. If she's been with other men, then she has experience. Having experience makes women stronger."

Like I said up top, this is not about Muslims or Arabs. You don't have to go halfway around the world, to another culture and religion, to see that dynamic in action.